BlackBerry, the once-great smartphone maker that exited the hardware business in 2016, is suing Facebook for patent infringement. BlackBerry owns a portfolio of broad software patents that cover some of the most basic features of modern smartphone messaging services—and the company says it wants Facebook to pay up.
Facebook "created mobile messaging applications that coopt BlackBerry's innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality-enhancing features that made BlackBerry's products such a critical and commercial success in the first place," BlackBerry's Tuesday lawsuit claims. The lawsuit argues that Facebook subsidiaries Instagram and Whatsapp infringe BlackBerry's patents in addition to Facebook's own messaging apps.
It's not unusual for technology companies that lose their lead in the marketplace to turn to patent licensing as an alternative way to make money. Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement in 2012, for example, while Nokia sued Apple for patent infringement in 2016.